Kicking the can down the road is not a strategy....
From his disastrous press conference last week, in which he confessed he has not decided on a strategy to combat ISIS, to his public pretending the border is secure as ISIS prepares to exploit our open, designedly porous southwestern border, to his refusal to use "invasion" to describe Russia's invasion of Ukraine, President Obama sets the stage for serial disasters to unfold.
The NRO piece linked above reports what the ever energetic public interest group Judicial Watch has revealed: rampant crime at our porous border; terror groups assembling in Mexico, plotting to attack the US; drug cartels running amok;
Judicial Watch collated several statements from Obama's "What, me worry?" conference:
“We don’t have a strategy yet.... I don’t want to put the cart before the horse.... I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggest that folks are getting a little further ahead of what we’re at than what we currently are.”
In August 2008 Sarah Palin, oft-mocked by critics left & right, nailed candidate Obama on his lack of strategic vision, in her VP-nomination acceptance speech:
“But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed, when the roar of the crowd fades away, when the stadium lights go out and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot, when that happens, what exactly is our opponent’s plan?”
Palin also warned in her speech that Ukraine could follow Georgia on Russia's target list:
"After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next."
But perhaps this is unfair to Obama. Michael Ledeen argues that Obama does in fact have a strategy: create a Washington - Iran alliance; but he prefers not to articulate it publicly, for fear of backlash:
"The actual strategy is detente first, and then a full alliance with Iran throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It has been on display since before the beginning of the Obama administration. During his first presidential campaign in 2008, Mr. Obama used a secret back channel to Tehran to assure the mullahs that he was a friend of the Islamic Republic, and that they would be very happy with his policies. The secret channel was Ambassador William G. Miller, who served in Iran during the shah’s rule, as chief of staff for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and as ambassador to Ukraine. Ambassador Miller has confirmed to me his conversations with Iranian leaders during the 2008 campaign.
Ever since, President Obama’s quest for an alliance with Iran has been conducted through at least four channels: Iraq, Switzerland (the official U.S. representative to Tehran), Oman and a variety of American intermediaries, the most notable of whom is probably Valerie Jarrett, his closest adviser. In recent months, Middle Eastern leaders reported personal visits from Ms. Jarrett, who briefed them on her efforts to manage the Iranian relationship. This was confirmed to me by a former high-ranking American official who says he was so informed by several Middle Eastern leaders.
The central theme in Obama’s outreach to Iran is his conviction that the United States has historically played a wicked role in the Middle East, and that the best things he can do for that part of the world is to limit and withdraw American military might, and empower our self-declared enemies, whose hostility to traditional American policies he largely shares.
WaPo columnist Anne Applebaum argues that a total European war is not outside the realm of possibility. Putin could overreach and underestimate the West's response--moving, for example, into the Baltics. Some Russians want Putin--who has threatened to use nuclear weapons in pursuit if his strategic goals--to launch a tactical nuclear strike against eastern Europe. Applebaum thinks this most unlikely. But it too is not impossible. Putin is, by nature, a gambler, one with an ardent desire to reincorporate Russia's former European possessions back into Mother Russia.
Perhaps as historian Victor Davis Hanson notes, Obama's hazy, often-wrong understanding of history, helps explain his passivity. VDH writes:
In Obama's hazy sense of the end of history, things always must get better in the manner that updated models of iPhones and iPads are glitzier than the last. In fact, history is morally cyclical. Even technological progress is ethically neutral. It is a way either to bring more good things to more people or to facilitate evil all that much more quickly and effectively.
In the viciously modern 20th century -- when more lives may have been lost to war than in all prior centuries combined -- some 6 million Jews were put to death through high technology in a way well beyond the savagery of Attila the Hun or Tamerlane. Beheading in the Islamic world is as common in the 21st century as it was in the eighth century -- and as it will probably be in the 22nd. The carnage of the Somme and Dresden trumped anything that the Greeks, Romans, Franks, Turks or Venetians could have imagined.
Thus, Obama does not even know presidential history: VDH cites O's statement that Washington, Lincoln & FDR all freed prisoners, which is flat wrong; all three were out of office before prisoners were released. As for Martin Luther King's "the arc of history always bends towards justice," VDH wryly points out that MLK understood that happened only with positive human action.
I would add that the prisoner reference, made to justify his swap for Taliban hostage Bowe Bergdahl, should also be put in context of his first-term release of ISIS founder/chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who had been captured by US forces in Iraq in 2005.
Fox News reported that an August 2014 West Point Combating Terrorism Center assessment documents four years of ISIS building its capability (the West Point pdf file is linked to the Fox News article).
Bottom Line. So either Obama is rudderless, lacking a coherent strategy; or he is purposeful, carrying out a clandestine strategy of American surrender & retreat. Sadly, likely both propositions are true. Obama lacks specific strategies in many cases. But his overall goal is what Ledeen says it is: make Iran a major, legitimate player--even if that entails accepting a nuclear Iran.
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